Blackhawks-Flames Preview

With their power play finally coming around, the Chicago

Blackhawks have been piling up goals in winning their last four

games.

Last week in Chicago, the Calgary Flames managed to hold the

Blackhawks to their lowest goal total of their streak but still

found themselves on the wrong end of a lopsided score.

Chicago looks to continue its surge and recent dominance over

the Flames on Friday night.

Despite being led by proven goal scorers Jonathan Toews, Patrick

Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, the Blackhawks’ power-play

unit ranked last in the league Nov. 8, converting at 8.8 percent (5

for 57).

Since then, Chicago (12-4-3) has gone 6 for 14 with the extra

man (42.9 percent) and has scored 21 goals in winning all four

games.

“The last three or four games it’s crawling, it’s slowly coming

back,” left wing Andrew Brunette said after Chicago went 2 for 3 on

the power play in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Vancouver.

Brunette and Kane had power-play goals against the Canucks,

while Toews, Sharp and Steve Montador also scored for the

Blackhawks, who were without defenseman Brent Seabrook due to a

lower-body injury.

Toews has been leading the way during the winning streak,

tallying five goals and three assists.

“We’ve been scoring a lot of goals lately, which is good, and

hopefully we can keep it up,” said Kane, who will turn 23 on

Saturday.

Kane, tied with Hossa for the team lead with 21 points, had an

empty-net goal in last Friday’s 4-1 win over the Flames

(7-9-1).

Calgary held the Blackhawks to 1 for 4 on their power play and

three goals until four seconds remained, a minor victory

considering what Chicago’s offense has accomplished lately.

The Blackhawks improved to 15-4-0 against the Flames since

2008-09, which includes a first-round playoff series in 2009. Toews

has again been instrumental to Chicago’s success, with three goals

and three assists in his last four games in the series.

Although the Blackhawks have routinely given the Flames trouble,

they were outscored 10-3 in losing their two games in Calgary last

season.

The Flames, however, haven’t been enjoying much success at the

Saddledome lately. They’ve been outscored 11-2 in losing their last

three games there and are 2-4-1 in their last seven in Calgary.

One of the biggest reasons for those struggles is the Flames’

home power play, which is a league-worst 2 for 40 (5.0 percent). In

Tuesday’s 3-1 home loss to Ottawa, Calgary went 0 for 6 with the

man advantage.

“Your power play is normally your best players, and the best

players got to produce on the power play,” coach Brent Sutter

said.

That obviously hasn’t been the case, as captain Jarome Iginla

has yet to score a power-play goal in nine home games.

Calgary’s defense has also been a little shaky lately, yielding

at least three goals in each of the last four games.

That doesn’t bode well for facing the red-hot Blackhawks, who

are 10-0-2 when scoring at least three goals.

Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 27 shots in Chicago last week and has

posted a 3.84 goals-against average in losing his three starts in

Calgary this month. He is 2-8-2 with a 4.02 GAA in regular-season

games against the Blackhawks since 2008-09.

Chicago’s Ray Emery got the start against the Flames last week

and made 24 saves, improving to 3-1-1 with a 1.19 GAA lifetime

versus Calgary.

Starter Corey Crawford, who has a 2.34 GAA in winning his last

three starts, is 2-1-0 with a 2.68 GAA against Calgary in his

career.